Mary Jane True, 83, pianist, performed at Baltimore cafes

October 12, 1999|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Mary Jane True, a professional pianist who was named one of the best musicians in Baltimore, died Friday from complications of a stroke at Union Memorial Hospital. She was 83.

The former Mary Jane Beeler was born in San Diego and graduated from the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music in 1935.

She worked as a musician and accompanist for singers in New York for several years before moving to Baltimore in 1952 when her husband, Alfred True, became president of the locally based Atlantic Ship Supply Co.

Mrs. True performed in dozens of local cafes and restaurants, including Hunt Valley Inn, the Thirteenth Floor of the Belvedere Hotel, Cafe des Artistes, and Harvey House, often accompanying singers who performed jazz classics and songs from Broadway musicals.

Until suffering a stroke this year, Mrs. True entertained customers at Nordstrom department store in Towson.

Mrs. True opened her sets with "Almost Like Being in Love," from "Brigadoon," and closed with"We'll Meet Again," family members said.

In 1983, Baltimore magazine named her "Baltimore's Best Cocktail Pianist."

In 1989, then-U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume honored her with a "Congressional Achievement Award," praising her for her "exemplary contributions to the field of performing arts."

"She was unbelievably talented -- she had perfect pitch and could play almost any song without needing sheet music," said her daughter Marie True Evans of Lutherville.

Mrs. True was a deputy court clerk in Baltimore County for 17 years until her retirement in 1981.

Her marriage to Alfred True ended in divorce.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. today at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

She is survived by two other daughters, Diana True Corrigan of Annapolis and Adrienne Rose True of Towson; three sons, Richard Lawrence True of Stamford, Conn., Donald Alfred True of Baltimore and Kenneth Gilbert True of Huntingtown; a sister, Rosalie Lindenmeyr of Haverford, Pa.; seven grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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